(From left, AH principal Christy Collins, Mark Ahlness, 1st-grade teacher Ms. Wilson)
As the school year wound down to its Friday finale, we have featured several farewell celebrations for beloved retiring teachers. In most cases, the celebration plan was announced in advance, and we were honored to be invited to be there to take a photo. At Arbor Heights Elementary, they had to surprise one retiring teacher who by all accounts was hoping to leave (after 21 years there) without much fuss. But we’re glad that a parent volunteer shared the photo, because we wanted to say a special word of thanks to AH’s third-grade teacher Mark Ahlness. As far as we recall, he’s the first West Seattle teacher ever mentioned on WSB – we discovered some of his work almost five years ago, no surprise because one of his many accomplishments was making Arbor Heights one of the first schools to have a website! And the first to publish all its student newsletters online – on Friday, he was also onstage to honor this year’s “Junior Seahawk Reporters”:
He’s coached countless students through online writing – the archive’s at roomtwelve.com – and writes online himself (some of his retirement reflections are here). Over the past few years, he has also from time to time updated us – and therefore, tens of thousands of West Seattleites and other WSB readers – on Arbor Heights students’ achievements, also including the annual Earth Day Groceries Project (a now-international activity, which, like the AH website, was launched in 1994). We know AH Elementary’s community has many more memories of him, but since we didn’t get a chance to sign the banner – we wanted to publicly say “thank you, Mr. Ahlness” too!